On 12th July 2021 the government confirmed that most legal restrictions to control COVID-19 will be lifted at step 4.

What does that mean to Andover businesses?

From Monday July 19th 2021 the restriction to need to distance from people you do not live with is lifted. There will be no limits on the number of people you can meet inside or out.

The Prime minister however made four important points:

  • The requirement to wear face coverings in law will be lifted. The Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport or crowded places.
  • There will no longer be limits on the number of people.
  • To minimise risk at a time of high prevalence, people should limit the close contact they have with those they don’t usually live with and be sensible. This includes minimising the number, proximity, and duration of social contacts.
  • Meet outdoors where possible and let fresh air into homes or other enclosed spaces.

How have our local businesses responded to this news?

Well, it’s been a long time coming and I think we all knew that rules would need to be relaxed at some point. Andover town centre businesses are generally very pleased that life can get back to normality but are understandably taking this news with some caution. We are fortunate in as much as we don’t have many really crowded places.

Whilst the government have lifted the restrictions, the onus has been shifted to us all to be sensible. And that includes businesses being careful.

What about pubs and clubs?

Hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and bars who have been particularly hard hit by Covid will no longer be required to provide table service or follow other social distancing rules. All remaining closed businesses and venues such as nightclubs and entertainment venues will be able to reopen. Nightclubs, which have been closed since the first lockdown in March last year, will be allowed to open their doors but will be encouraged to use certification to minimise the risks.

Other “large events” will also be encouraged to use vaccine passports, with customers able to prove their status using the NHS app.

 And sporting facilities and entertainment venues?

All capacity limits at sporting, entertainment, or business events will be lifted. So, numbers will be limited.

And the workplace and offices?

The Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can. However, they expect all businesses to follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance. Whilst the Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, the Government would expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer.

In summary

For businesses, employers will still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. Working Safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider, and BID can help businesses to do this.